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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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How can HR use social networks for job referrals while maintaining employee privacy?


Ziv Eliraz is the Founder and CEO of Zao, a social employee referral management platform.

According to recent studies, about 92 percent of employers plan to use social recruitment in their hiring practices. At the other end of the spectrum, 85 percent of companies have employee referral programs in their organizations. Pair them together and you have a good match.

It’s no surprise the best and brightest employees are brought on board through referrals. These employees tend to stay longer, as well. If we use the power of social networking data in our employee referral programs, we’ll begin to see better results.

Social networking data is essentially user profile information, most of it publicly available on social networks, like Facebook and LinkedIn, that help you figure out which of the people you know might be a good fit for jobs in your company. The problem is, scanning this information manually is a very tedious and time-consuming process, and most of the information you really care about is that of the people (friends, business partners, vendors, and former employees) who are connected to your employees. This data could be used to strategically seek out new employees, if only there was a way to do it while maintaining employee privacy and keeping their accounts secure.

So, how can you do this?

Utilise employee social networks

The networks of your employees are like a candidate goldmine. There are tons of qualified active and passive candidates just waiting to be discovered. So, by utilizing employee social networks, you’ll gain access to these candidates without doing any heavy lifting on your end. All you need to provide is the right criteria, as well as a vouch from the connector themselves.

It’s usually a good idea to figure out which employee networks will work best for you. For instance, there may be a huge presence on LinkedIn for your target candidates, but not so much on Facebook — while in some industries, people are rarely on LinkedIn at all. When it comes down to it, asking your employees to put effort into a network that won’t yield the right results may be a time-waster.

Properly designed systems can help employees match friends without the need for social network passwords, without storing any information, and without sharing any personal information. This keeps things private and protects the social networks of your employees.

Utilising an employee’s social network benefits referral programs in a couple ways. First, they’re able to find quality candidates by using social platforms, which many are already used to. In addition, once they find candidates, making referrals is simple because they are able to through the actual referral program. There are no added steps.

Use matching algorithms

Most organisations have specific requirements for each job. To make the process easier, matching algorithms are used to create a more tailored search.

Here’s how it works. Members of your organisation input specific requirements into a system based on the job description. For example, candidates living in London who went to UCL and have a degree in architecture. When you input these requirements into a recruitment platform that has a matching algorithm, it scans your preferred social networks, and you are given results based on the algorithm. It can also perform the same service for your employees, on a completely private basis.

Using the algorithms doesn’t affect your privacy or that of your employees, either. The employee is the only one who can see the results so everything is done privately, without sharing any social network information.

So, if you want to run an automatic scan through social networks every Wednesday at 3 p.m. based on some predetermined criteria, you can do so by setting up an automatic scan. This is can be done through an external analytical platform that can get specific employee permission that prevents sharing social network data back with the employer. Plus, properly utilised automatic data collection doesn’t force employees to share jobs if they don’t want to. Employees can be presented with the option to refer the right people, and can opt in to sharing jobs.

Automation takes the work out of sifting through hundreds of profiles. Employees are given tailored results, can explore these results, and vouch for the ones that make the most sense to the organization. Instead of your employees going through each network, each group, or each set of friends, they can run their social networks through a recruitment platform that has a matching algorithm. In turn, they are walked through the process step-by-step and are engaged in the referral program at the same time. In addition, if there are rewards associated with a good social match, it creates an even bigger incentive to participate.

Automate job sharing

Sometimes, we just don’t have the time (or the patience) to go through social networking data. With lots of platforms, different targets, and new rules everyday, collecting and then understanding data is hard. However, when you automate the process, you’re able to reach passive candidates without having to think about it.

Another positive aspect of automation is that many employees will want to share jobs on social networks on an ongoing basis, and it doesn’t make sense to ask them to do it manually. Rather than ask them to remember to log in every week or two to share jobs, proper use of social networks will allow employees to set up a custom recurring sharing schedule, on the social network of their choice, and at a frequency of their choice. This helps save them time, makes sure job sharing is done on a consistent basis, and helps make social networks work for them, rather than the other way around.

Sharing jobs is a repetitive action, that needs to be done on an ongoing basis. Automated sharing relieves employees of the need to remember to actively share jobs (and relieves you of the need to remind them!).

Social networking data within your employee referral programs is a great way to find a high calibre of candidates. Combine the two today in order to create a more cohesive team.

What do you think? What are some other ways to use social networking data in your employee referral programs.

Author Profile Picture
Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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